Theses Doctoral

Historicizing Identities: Family Stories and Twentieth-Century Jewish Migration in Francophone Literature and Film

Raichlen, Katherine

Historicizing Identities analyzes the intersections of Jewish, French and immigrant identity in novels and films that depict Jewish migration from Eastern Europe and North Africa in the twentieth century. Through a combination of literary and historical analysis, it traces changing notions of identity during and after the collapse of the French empire between the 1940s and 1960s, and explores how Jewish writers’ and filmmakers’ perspectives vary depending on their relationships to the history of colonialism and the Holocaust.

The works discussed in the dissertation consider the history of Jewish immigration through the lens of personal family stories. This approach reflects the extent to which marriage and children are at the center of logics of assimilation in France as well as traditional understandings of Jewish survival. Additionally, turning to their own families’ pasts allows these artists to insist on the particularities of their experience and to resist reductive understandings of Jewish history. In turn, close analysis of their work allows us to better understand Jewish, French and immigrant identity as historical constructions.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
French and Romance Philology
Thesis Advisors
Dobie, Madeleine
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 17, 2022